Over the fallow flood


Cynethryth is as much about whiteness as it is about storytelling. How meaning gets enmeshed into stuff. How form embarrasses us, how it dredges up shameful truths indifferent to the fallacious histories and speech acts announced against it. This shame can come about twice. Either as a papered-over atrocity; an ill that reannounces itself via a haunting or a deluge that bursts through papery walls, gone wet with proximity. The closer a printed word gets to its intended target, the more sodden its mistruths become until a breach occurs. The second shame is the inverse of this, virtue or the benign somehow sloughing through any defamatories that have been grafted onto them. The failure of the weld. An apparatus-collapse. You would have felt this before, a pull toward something unreferenced. Some kind of material truth that refutes the world as presented, as agreed upon.

Over the fallow flood was an exhibition of sculptures, texts, audio work and performances made during an extensive research and development period hosted by Jupiter Woods in 2020-21. It marked the first of two sister shows showcasing recent work that looks into rehistoricising the biography of Cynethryth, eighth-century Queen of Mercia, to reflect on the ways in which patriarchal powers control how our culture is documented and recorded.

Over the fallow flood was co-commissioned by Jupiter Woods, London and Flatland Projects, Bexhill-on-sea.

Photography by Manuela Barczewski

 

mist / margin
2021
Concrete, floor paint, wax pencil depiction of King Offa cradling St Alban’s Cathedral, flanked by the scribes of St. Albans (here decapitated) taken from illuminations from the Vitae Offarum Duorum

Knowledge, Acquiring, 359
2017 / 2021
Fuchsia flowers, aluminium coins originally stamped with Cynethyth’s portrait and insignia using custom made hammers as a part of The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

Girl’s Own Paper
2018-ongoing
Inkjet print on paper previously immersed in The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

Printouts of texts and images pertaining to the lives of Cynethryth, Kate Marsden, Kwenthrith from The Vikings TV show and Thryth of the Angles fell into the cesspit waters of the sculpture The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House as a part of This House of Common Weeds at The Newbridge Project in Gateshead. At the close of the exhibition, the printouts were retrieved and dried.

sothfastness… (fallow)
2021
Daub with South Downs lime putty, shredded King Offa Primary Academy school uniform, wig fibre, liquid soap and animal manure

Smear (for Cynethryth)
2018
Digital video

Smear (for Cynethryth) was a carnival float dedicated to eighth century Queen of the Mercians and co-founder of Bexhill-on-sea, a town on the south coast of England. Participating in 2018's iteration of the annual Bexhill Carnival, the float played host to folk singing, daub-mixing and hairdressing, whilst on-board printers produced pamphlets containing literature about Queen Cynethryth that were handed out to the carnival processions’ audience.

The Head of Æthelburht of East Anglia
2018-2021
Daub with South Downs lime putty, shredded King Offa Primary Academy school uniform, wig fibre, liquid soap and animal manure, wig, thermal print on receipt roll, bucket

The daub created during the performance of Technically Illiterate, Actually Still Pagan ( 1 ) at V22’s Ilderton Road project space, was collected up and sculpted to form the head of Æthelburht, King of East Anglia who Offa, the husband of Cynethryth, beheaded. The execution of Æthelburht was seen as a blight on Offa’s otherwise popular reign. Centuries later, the monks of St Alban’s Monastery reattributed this crime onto Cynethryth, in an attempt to clear Offa’s name and therefore receive more funding for the monastery. To this day, the monks’ writings – the Vitae Offarum Durorum, remains the main “source” of information about the royal couple’s lives. The Head of Æthelburht of East Anglia will be sited in the garden during 8 September, after which it will head inside.

Precariously, in depression and mourning (Cynethryth’s vessel) 
2016
King Offa Primary Academy bookbag, Janicare liquid soap, South Downs lime putty, animal manure, shredded King Offa Primary Academy school uniforms, liquid soap container, coat hook

The names of Cynethryth 
2016
Pen, tempera, South Downs lime putty, animal manure and liquid soap on King Offa Primary Academy school uniform, gaffer tape

Kate Marsden: an Angel of Divine Mercy
2020-2021
Two printed copies of Vasiliy Kharyskhal’s Kate Marsden: an Angel of Divine Mercy, one in Sakha and one in English

 

Kate Marsden was a missionary, nurse and philanthropist who became invested in finding a cure for Hansen’s disease (or leprosy) during her life. She raised funds to travel to Siberia in search of a rumoured cure that she never found. However, on her return to England she was faced with scepticism and personal attacks over her sexuality and rumoured money-laundering. While her reputation in the UK never recovered, she is still a revered figure in Yakutia where university scholarships and diamonds are named after her. The centenary of her birth saw this play being hosted in the Sakha Theatre. This translation from Sakha into English occurred during the Over the fallow flood research and development period hosted by Jupiter Woods and was made possible in collaboration with Artangel’s Thinking Time grant.

On the undeath of that criminal queen 
2017
Inkjet print on paper

Zine made using live recital, amendment, publication and dissemination of a chapter of the Vitae Offarum Duorum using erasure, annotation, marginalia and staining with printer/photocopier, correction fluid, pens, stapler, pencil and river silt.

The Head of Xarlemagne
2021
Daub with South Downs lime putty, shredded King Offa Primary Academy school uniform, wig fibre, liquid soap and animal manure, wig, audio cassette player, audio work on cassette.
Duration: 15 minutes (each side)

Bacx to Xarlemagne, my equal-sized daughter 
2016
Framed C-type print taken by Fotek School Portraits for King Offa Junior School in 1994, fuchsia seeds

Rear exhibition space (clockwise from entrance):

Look at the grass!
Look at the girl!
Everything is like a magic dream!

2021
Drywipe marker on LED display sign, water, lime putty, animal manure, liquid soap

After retiring to Bexhill-on-sea, Kate Marsden spearheaded a campaign to start a community museum for the town. The campaign was a success but the allegations against Marsden followed her and she was forced to resign from the board of the museum before it opened. After her death, the museum refused to accept a photographic portrait of Marsden. This portrait is now on display in the Royal Geographical Society but in 2019 a replica was commissioned from James Arguile, an artist/teacher from Bexhill-on-sea and lifelong friend of Gent’s. This portrait was hung on the back of the sculpture in praise of scratching as a part of Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance Act II at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-sea. At the close of the exhibition, the sculpture was wheeled along the seafront to Bexhill Museum where the portrait was donated to the Museum where it still hangs. Over the fallow flood sees a second replica of this portrait rendered in LED display sign.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace 
2016
Shaving soap 

fremu folces cwen
2018 / 2021
Marker pen, daub and tempera on cotton that formed costumes worn during Smear (for Cynethryth), washing line

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
2021
Daub with South Downs lime putty, shredded King Offa Primary Academy school uniform, wig fibre, liquid soap and animal manure